Bob Levey/Getty Images
Bob Levey/Getty Images

What It All Means: AFC Draft Breakdowns

The 2014 NFL draft went down in unpredictable fashion. Now it’s time to look at what each team’s haul means going forward

Andy Benoit
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Baltimore Ravens

1.17 C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
2.16 Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
3.15 Terrence Brooks, FS, Florida State
3.35 Crockett Gillmore, TE, Colorado St.
4.34 Brent Urban, DE, Virginia
4.38 Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Coastal Carolina
5.35 John Urschel, OG, Penn State
6.18 Keith Wenning, QB, Ball State
7.03 Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest

For years, every Ravens draft review focused on whether they improved the offense. But Joe Flacco has shifted that balance of power, which is why there was minimal murmuring about four of Baltimore’s first five picks being defensive players. The lone offensive selection through Friday, tight end Crockett Gillmore, will primarily watch from the sideline as a rookie as veterans Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels figure to occupy the two spots in new coordinator Gary Kubiak’s play-action system. As for those defensive picks …

C.J. Mosley—who hails from Alabama, ostensibly GM Ozzie Newsome’s alma mater and favorite program to draft from—will compete with last year’s second-rounder, Arthur Brown, for the starting inside linebacker job next to 32-year-old Daryl Smith, whom the coaching staff justifiably loves. Mosley and Brown hope to both be starters sometime before Smith’s new contract expires after 2017. One could argue that Timmy Jernigan “dropped” to the Ravens in Round 2. By drafting another big defensive lineman, Brent Urban, two rounds later, Newsome tacitly told us he’s not optimistic about Terrence Cody, a second-round pick in 2010 who re-signed for one year and small money.

Buffalo Bills

By giving up two first-rounders to land Sammy Watkins, GM Doug Whaley sent a clear message to the Bills’ next owner: We are going to win now. (Tyler Smith/Getty Images)
By giving up two first-rounders to land Sammy Watkins, GM Doug Whaley sent a clear message to the Bills’ next owner: We are going to win now. (Tyler Smith/Getty Images)

1.04 Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
2.12 Cyrus Kouandijo, OL, Alabama
3.09 Preston Brown, LB, Louisville
4.09 Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke
5.13 Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
7.06 Randell Johnson, LB, Florida Atlantic
7.22 Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami (Fla.)

Buffalo’s trade up five spots to the fourth pick, to get Sammy Watkins, might evoke memories of Atlanta’s trade to get Julio Jones, but this is a different scenario. For starters, GM Doug Whaley’s Bills have a lot more needs than Thomas Dimitroff’s Falcons had in 2011, making Buffalo’s a much costlier trade. History says the Bills will wind up surrendering a pair of top-10 picks in this deal. That might not be of much concern to Whaley. New ownership is on the horizon and the buyer is not promised to be loyal to the current front office. The best way for Whaley to prove to his next boss that he’s right for the job is to win as many games as possible in 2014.

Watkins can help this cause, certainly, but it’s a little curious the Bills traded Stevie Johnson the day after making this pick. The soon-to-be 28-year-old veteran was due only $3.65 million this year and Doug Marrone’s offense often features three wide receivers. The Bills need at least four, and maybe five, receivers who can contribute on Sundays. Perhaps they are just intrigued with last year’s rookie receivers, second-rounder Robert Woods (a good route runner) and third-rounder Marquise Goodwin (a burner).

As for this year’s other picks, Kouandijo will vie for the right tackle job opposite 2012 second-rounder Cordy Glenn, who has been solid on the left side. The Preston Brown selection proves the Bills are serious about moving 2013 second-rounder Kiko Alonso, sensational playing inside as a rookie, outside in new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s 4-3.

Cincinnati Bengals

1.24 Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St.
2.23 Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
3.24 Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia
4.11 Russell Bodine, OC, North Carolina
5.24 A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
6.36 Marquis Flowers, LB, Arizona
7.24 James Wright, WR, LSU
7.37 Lavelle Westbrooks, CB, Georgia Southern

Darqueze Dennard’s arrival is partly an indictment of Dre Kirkpatrick, a first-round pick three years ago who has been sidelined by injuries and sluggish development. But even if Kirkpatrick blossoms this summer there’s still likely to be a playing time for Dennard; incumbent starting left corner Terence Newman is 35, and right side starter and slot ace Leon Hall is coming off an Achilles injury.

Jeremy Hill’s arrival likely signals BenJarvus Green-Ellis’s departure, if not this year then certainly next year. Hill figures to be a more dynamic version of The Law Firm. The selection of Will Clarke was no surprise. Every year, the Bengals use an early-to-middle-round pick on an athletic defensive lineman who has the pass-rushing prowess and athleticism in space to operate in the zone-blitzing scheme that Mike Zimmer installed and that new coordinator Paul Guenther now hopes to perfect.

Lastly, it’s worth noting for the record that A.J. McCarron is not here to compete for Andy Dalton’s job. McCarron said before the draft that multiple teams told him he had a first-round grade. But when talk was no longer cheap, multiple teams (as in every team) told McCarron what everyone else already knew: He was a fifth-round prospect.

Cleveland Browns

With the arrival of Johnny Manziel, Browns fans feel like the franchise is finally heading in the right direction. (Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
With the arrival of Johnny Manziel, Browns fans feel like the franchise is finally heading in the right direction. (Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

1.08 Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.
1.22 Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
2.03 Joel Bitonio, OL, Nevada
3.07 Christian Kirksey, LB, Iowa
3.30 Terrance West, RB, Towson
4.27 Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood

You know the narrative here: The Browns fan base is ENERGIZED!, Johnny Manziel is just here to work, blah blah blah… No team ever won because of an ENERGIZED! fan base, a harsh truth made more unfortunate by the fact that no fan base has ever managed to remain ENERGIZED! when its team couldn’t win. There is speculation that Ray Farmer’s choice of Manziel was influenced by owner Jimmy Haslam. The Browns refute this, but it wouldn’t be the first time an owner’s wishes overruled the draft board. That is Haslam’s prerogative, of course. But if Haslam had truly been bullying Farmer into picking Manziel, wouldn’t Farmer would have done so at Pick 4? Or at least at Pick 8?

Instead, Farmer tabbed Justin Gilbert, a selection few saw coming but one that makes perfect sense. New head coach Mike Pettine’s blitz-happy scheme demands that corners hold up in one-on-one man coverage. Even when it’s not a blitz, Pettine will often still need his corners to play on an island given that many of his coverage concepts feature man-to-man outside and zone inside. Gilbert, teaming with budding superstar Joe Haden, theoretically gives Pettine two corners he can use in iso-man.

Denver Broncos

1.31 Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
2.24 Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
3.31 Michael Schofield, OL, Michigan
5.16 Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU
6.31 Matt Paradis, OC, Boise St.
7.27 Corey Nelson, LB, Oklahoma

With a 38-year-old future Hall of Fame quarterback and Super Bowl-ready roster, one has to assume that Bradley Roby, Cody Latimer and Michael Schofield are viewed as instant contributors. There’s room for all of them in 2014. Roby will vie for the starting corner job opposite Aqib Talib, ahead of incumbent Chris Harris, who tore his ACL in January. If Harris begins the year on the PUP list, Roby will almost certainly be assured of at least nickel snaps (which are like starter’s snaps in today’s NFL) and will have to beat out last year’s third-rounder, Kayvon Webster, for reps in the base 4-3.

Latimer should be able to beat out Andre Caldwell as the first wideout off the bench in Denver’s three-receiver base. Claiming a starting job is out of the question though, as Emmanuel Sanders already represents a solid upgrade over the departed Eric Decker (regardless of what the traditional stats might say).

Schofield will have a chance to compete for starting duties in the wake of Zane Beadles’ departure. At 6-6 and 300 pounds, he won’t actually go for Beadles’ old left guard job though. Rather, he’ll compete with Chris Clark at right tackle. RT incumbent Orlando Franklin has moved to Beadles’ old spot, where he’ll be less of a liability in pass protection.


Mr. Benoit, to say Brady shows no signs of decline befuddles me. I'm a Pats fan since 1974 and have seen them all come and go. The Brady of old rarely missed wide open receivers downfield and consistently threw the ball to the proper side enabling yards after the catch, the current Brady fails to consistently do this. He's also developed a habit of ducking in anticipation of fantom rushers and has lost the little bit of mobility he once had. I wouldn't be surprised if this is Toms' last season as the starter for the Pats. Belicheck has often said its better to let a player go a year early than a year late and is not sentimental when making decisions for his team. The list of fan favorites he has let go is a long one.


Both Wilfork and Tommy Kelly are coming off injuries. Wilfork's deal has only one year guaranteed; the other two years are club options. A healthy Easley (he also has an injury history while at Florida) could just as likely be the long-term successor to Wilfork as Kelly's short-term replacement.  


"At 6-6-6 and 300 pounds..."

So, Schofield will be a beast then?


Hear ya on the Chiefs draft. Hope that's not Andy making the same mistake he made with McNabb, not getting him a flat-out playmaking stud WR. It's why the Eagles and McNabb never won the SB. Arena League talent at WR. 


"...or maybe he’ll go the Branden Albert/Shawn Andrews/Jammal Brown/Alex Barron/Levi Brown/Chris Williams/Jason Smith/Andre Smith/Eugene Monroe/Michael Oher/Bryan Bulaga route and not."

Andre Smith just got a new contract with the team who drafted him: the Bengals. 


In the wake of free agency and the 2014 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos remain the best team in the AFC.The Patriots are No. 2 and the Colts are No. 3, ahead of the Chiefs, Ravens, and Bengals.“The Hoodie” must give Brady & Co. more reliable offensive weapons if New England is to overtake Denver.


@Jason1988  ...and last i checked bryan bulaga is still holding strong with the packers.

but his point is taken. few projected "plug and play 10 year tackles" turn out to be that. 


@Ocean_State_Patriots_Fan The more that HOU and JAX improve, the less likely it is that IND will remain at #3.

The big fear is that Brady is going to start breaking down; I can see him finishing up his career someplace else. The old cliché is that its better to trade a player like that one year too early than one year too late. Garoppolo and Mallet will be starter and backup soon; its just a matter of which player is which.